Why Socialization is Important When Your Dog is Young
- 19 May 2017
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- Pet Wants
When most people think of what’s needed for a dog to live a healthy and happy life, a few different things come to mind. Quality dog food, consistent exercise and regular vet checkups are at the top of most people’s list for great dog health. While we completely agree that all three of those elements are essential for a dog’s wellness, there’s another important topic that generally gets overlooked. Proper socialization plays a big role in a dog’s overall well-being. We’re going to cover why socialization matters, along with the ideal timeframe to socialize a dog:
Fear, Stress and More
Dogs that aren’t properly socialized at a young age tend to be fearful of new situations. When a dog experiences fear, its body releases a variety of hormones. Although these hormones play a vital role if a dog is in a truly dangerous situation, they aren’t ideal for a dog to consistently experience simply because it feels scared. If a dog has chronic stress due to consistently being scared, the hormones that are getting released can cause problems like suppressing immune system functions.
Since dogs who aren’t properly socialized don’t like new environments, it can make going to the vet (or anywhere else) very difficult. A scared dog may struggle physically through every step of a veterinary visit, making it hard for a vet to complete a proper evaluation. The same is true for trying to get this type of dog groomed.
Many dogs who lack proper socialization also get trapped in a cycle of not receiving enough exercise. Because their owners don’t want negative interactions with other dogs, they may not take a dog out as often, which in turn can result in other health and behavior issues.
When Should Dogs Get Socialized?
Many experts recommend beginning puppy socialization between three and twelve weeks. One school of thought is to give puppies seven new social situations each week until 12-16 weeks of age. Some experts recommend waiting until after all vaccinations are complete at 16 weeks. If you have any questions or concerns about the best option for your puppy, be sure to speak with your vet.
And even if your dog wasn’t properly socialized earlier in life, there’s still hope. You can find a knowledgeable professional that can help both you and your dog work through any issues it’s currently experiencing in regards to socialization.